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I don't quite understand what the author was trying to say in this picture. Could anyone explain?

http://libraries.ucsd.edu/speccoll/dswenttowar/#ark:bb4813149f

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closed as off topic by Jim, MετάEd, tchrist, Hellion, Kristina Lopez Apr 16 '13 at 17:40

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Understanding this requires a knowledge of history and an understanding of Eleanor Roosevelt's strong and occasionally nonconformist opinions. This has nothing to do with English. Find a biography and read it. –  James McLeod Apr 16 '13 at 4:58
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I don't think this makes it as an English Language question, but according to Wikipedia: Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor ... Roosevelt spoke out against anti-Japanese prejudice, ... She also privately opposed her husband's Executive Order 9066, which forced Japanese-Americans in many areas of the US into internment camps.[94] She was widely criticized for her defense of Japanese-American citizens, including a call by the Los Angeles Times that she be "forced to retire from public life" over her stand on the issue. –  Jim Apr 16 '13 at 4:58
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@Jim, James - I, for one, didn't know this meaning of "gunning" so this makes it definitely an English question. Maybe not of the level required by EL&U, more matching ell.SE, but without understanding the meaning of "gunning" as "seeking opportunity to criticize" no amount of reading biographies would let me understand this cartoon. –  SF. Apr 16 '13 at 7:57
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@SF: I agree that this could be an English question, but I think the O.P. needs to elaborate. In its current form, it doesn't specify the source of confusion, so who can really tell what's being asked? Who are those two people in the cloud? Why do all the marchers look lilliputian? Why does the banner begin with "that" and not "the"? Why do some carry swords, but some carry rifles? What does "gunning" mean in this context? What does "cheap" mean in this context? In other words, it could be made into an English question, but I don't think it's an English question yet. –  J.R. Apr 16 '13 at 8:30

1 Answer 1

It's possible the OP is asking this question because of the somewhat confusing verbiage on the flag in the cartoon. The flag says, "That cheap gunning for Eleanor Roosevelt." If this is the essence of the question, allow me to answer thus:

"Gunning for" means "looking to, or attempting to, criticize, or in some way attack." If someone is "gunning for Roosevelt," they are looking for a chance to attack her. The cartoonist has extended the meaning slightly to include the actual attack itself. He is referring to the fact that many people "attacked" (criticized) Eleanor Roosevelt for her opinions about Japanese-American relationships.

This phrase then becomes a pun when used in the cartoon, because the critics are depicted as firing actual guns. This, then, enables the cartoon Hitler to say sarcastically that Americans are good at attacking themselves, meaning Hitler is making fun of our ability to fight the war because we attack ourselves. Ultimately, the cartoonist's point is that we shouldn't be quarreling amongst ourselves, but focusing instead on the real enemy.

Also, the cartoonist called the "gunning" cheap, which means it is "unworthy, too thoughtlessly done to be of any merit, and dishonorable."

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